Biometrics can bring comfort and a sense of security to people’s lives since they’re easy to use and more secure than standard passwords. On the other hand, biometric technology brings unexpected issues and risks that can negatively affect their privacy.
- 1 WHERE ARE BIOMETRICS USED
- 2 SECURITY RISKS OF USING BIOMETRICS
- 3 HOW TO KEEP YOUR DATA SAFE
What are biometrics?
ExpressVPN’s piece of research defines biometrics as behavioral and physical features unique to every person, often used in identification and authentication. Some of the most frequently used biometrics include fingerprints, facial scans, DNA, retina and iris scans, and voice recognition.
WHERE ARE BIOMETRICS USED
1. Single sign-on (SSO)
Single sign-on services allow users to access multiple accounts through a single authentication point. For instance, users can log in to Gmail, Drive, YouTube, and other available Google services with only one username and password. The SSO services soon became targets of cyberattacks and identity thefts since hackers saw the opportunity to harvest vast amounts of data with access to only one account. Consequently, single sign-on services started implementing biometric authentication into their systems to tackle this issue, making them more secure.
2. Biometric payments
According to Visa’s research, 95% of the respondents from Vietnam said they’re using fingerprint recognition to verify their financial transactions. Respondents admitted they feel that biometric authentication is more secure than older authentication methods like PINs and passwords, with 97% of them finding fingerprints to be a safe method. Some countries are already testing more advanced biometric payment systems, like those based on facial recognition, to give their customers an even smoother experience.
3. Mobile device security
Android and iOS devices have integrated biometric authentication sensors to keep users’ data safe and limit access only to those individuals whose biometric data has been recorded upon registration. Due to high demand, technology companies are releasing improved biometric authentication solutions with every new device. For instance, in 2018, Samsung released the Intelligent Scan feature, which has retina scan, facial recognition, and fingerprint scan, but it allows the system to choose the best authentication method depending on environmental conditions.
SECURITY RISKS OF USING BIOMETRICS
1. Compromised biometrics is a lot of trouble
Every person has a unique biometric profile. However, if unauthorized party get their hands on it, uniqueness can quickly become biometrics’ greatest weakness. While users can change their passwords and usernames every time they suspect someone has used their credentials, they can’t change their fingerprints or the unique color pattern of their iris. Fortunately, the chance of someone using this data to steal your identity is unlikely thanks to “Liveness”, this is a key part of biometric security as it tests whether the sample is real or fake.
2. It could lead to a decreased sense of privacy
Tech companies behind popular gadgets track users to understand their preferences and consumer behavior better. This helps them improve their products and target audience with tailored ads, but it can decrease users’ sense of privacy. Also, law enforcement in many countries uses facial recognition to track criminals and prevent illegal activities, but the increasing number of surveillance cameras in the cities can cause unease among citizens.
HOW TO KEEP YOUR DATA SAFE
Use two-factor authentication
Both passwords and biometrics have their strengths and weaknesses, and neither system is perfect. However, combining them into a single system proved a more secure option. Two-factor authentication requires users to log in to their accounts with a password and a biometric feature like fingerprint or face scan. This way, they can reduce the risk of getting hacked because the perpetrator has to obtain both authentication factors to access the account successfully.
Opt-out if possible
Even though most Vietnamese respondents stated they would switch their bank or mobile device if it doesn’t support biometric authentication, it’s essential to be careful with whom you are entrusting your biometric data. Companies that don’t look trustworthy may share biometric data with other parties and jeopardize users’ safety and privacy.
Vietnamese see biometrics as a step forward into the more advanced and secure future. While it can be more convenient to pay bills with face scans, it is always worth considering the possible consequences this technology may bring.